Friday, August 17, 2018

The Guy We Don't Talk About...

Showtime 112
(Source)
(Source)
A number of sources list only five American airmen as being aces in Vietnam, that source above lists six. I did some searching for Captain Troy, this was the only reference I found, which seems odd. I didn't know Captain Feinstein before I wrote this post either, but I did find a couple of references to his exploits.

I understand why the WSO also gets credit, in the Phantom there are a lot of things the GIB has to do in order to score an AIM-7 missile kill (that's a radar guided missile). Using the gun (if so equipped) or an AIM-9 to down an enemy aircraft doesn't require any switchology assistance from the backseat. But that extra set of eyes has to be worth a lot in combat.

Now Steve Ritchie and Chuck DeBellevue are up on the header for two reasons, they were Air Force and I actually worked on their aircraft, 7463, which also graces the header. Most of the other guys (and one lady) you've heard of before, either here or elsewhere. Some of the guys up there I knew. Others were friends of LUSH and Big Time.

All of the folks up there are heroes of mine, for one reason or another. I once thought about putting this guy up there...
Commander William P. Driscoll, USN
He's on the list, the third guy from the top, he was the backseater for another guy.

The guy we don't talk about.

He was mentioned the other day in a post over at The Lexicans, this one. Which is where I got this photo, the guy we don't talk about, that's him in the middle.


You might recognize that handsome fellow on the right, yup, that's Lex. The fellow on the left, he was the commanding officer (CO) of USS Constellation (CV-64) when the photo was taken. He "grew up" to be Vice Admiral John W. Miller. He was Connie's last CO.

This photo must have been taken in the 2000-2001 time frame. Before the Duke's fall from grace.

But for that, those guys would be up there on the header. They were heroes to me once upon a time, CDR Driscoll still is, but can I have one? Without the other?

That photo above of CDR Driscoll looks a bit odd, doesn't it? Here's what it looks like, uncropped -

Duke and Irish, Vietnam War Aces
Yeah, always reminds me, "Soldiers Once, and Young."

Sigh...


The Phantom in the opening photo is actually Showtime 112, you might see references to it as "being painted to represent Showtime 112." Nope, she's the real deal according to Joe Baugher's website:
Bureau Number (BuNo) 157267, credited with shooting down MiG-21 over North Vietnam Jan 19, 1972. Credited with shooting down MiG-17 over North Vietnam May 8, 1972. Upgraded to F-4S. To MASDC as 8F0176 Dec 15, 1984. Now at San Diego Air Museum, California, on loan from National Naval Aviation Museum.
She's out in Sandy Eggo at their lovely aviation museum. I've been there. The scenario depicted at the museum recreates what happened in the video below. I took a couple of pictures of Showtime 112 at the museum, She's in nice shape.

So, I'll throw it out to you guys, should I have included Duke and Irish up on the header? Once upon a time they did their jobs and did them well. CDR Driscoll never besmirched his honor.

But Duke? I dunno...





Guide me folks, what say you?



70 comments:

  1. Cunningham was/is a man I admire. He met the enemy, comported himself well in combat. Did what needed doing. When he was caught cheating as a congress critter, he took the punishment, and did the time. I haven't heard him whine about it once. He did what a measurable percentage of cc's do, and since he wasn't one of the other group (cf. Menendez), he paid for it.

    Reminds me of a story I heard years ago: Giuseppe was the mayor of a small Italian town. He was wealthy for the area and had a heart of gold. He supported several widows, and gave scholarships to orphans. He was well liked by everyone. His words: "I giva money to the widows, and no one says Giuseppe the generous... I giva money to the orphans, and no one says Giuseppe the kinda hearted. I ama a good man, I care for my community..... but hava sex with one little goat......."

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    1. What I was trying to say is; we are all one goat away from a new nickname....

      I'd cut him a bit of slack. I don't think I'd put him on the banner.... Until he makes it to the choir eternal, and then maybe the footer.

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    2. That's a slightly cleaned up version of the Pierre the Bridge Builder story I heard and which is not even remotely appropriate for this blog.

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    3. Yes, there is that. But see what Juvat says further down.

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    4. But if that one goat was working for the mob and had bundles of cash strapped to it that the Mayor was using to help the people, does that change the situation? To me it does. It takes a deviant and goes 10km further down the road of badness. And that's what, to me, Cunningham did.

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    5. As always, elegantly put, Beans. (No, really, you cut to the heart of the matter.)

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    6. Thanks. Moral quandries are a specialty of mine. Having been embroiled in far too many of them myself. Hard to shine brightly when I know what smudges are on my lamp. Ah, sin, and the nature of sins, and forgiveness. That is a whole other topic. Decending into moral naval-gazing...

      Oh, look, pictures of planes...

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    7. Wouldn't "Naval-gazing" be looking a pictures of Ships?

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    8. What? Those aren't navel ships? Tuna's not a navel officer?

      Damned stupid fingers not being able to auto-correct my brain farts...

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    9. Wait, weren't we talking about oranges?

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    10. If you're talking about boat people, well, that's a fruity subject.

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  2. Well. If the guys up there are heroes to you... and if Cunningham’s feet of clay make him NOT a hero to you - then it’s an easy answer, right?

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    1. It's not the feet of clay. He betrayed his oath, he dishonored the uniform. That's what bothers me the most I think.

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    2. He dishonored his oath of office as a congressman. And his duty to the people of this nation.

      His actions in uniform are what brought him onto your radar. His actions in Congress are what shot him down.

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  3. Honor is hard to gain, harder to maintain, easy to lose and nigh on to impossible to regain.

    I don't have much respect for either of the pilots on your list. They did what they were trained and paid to do.

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    1. Absolutely agree on your first statement.

      Interesting, your last.

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    2. Hmmm. Could you clarify your feelings on Ritchie? Is there something you know that the rest of us don't, and you can share?

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    3. Well, seeing as how Beans asked...

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    4. The one time I met him he was quite arrogant, which is a trait I find disagreeable.

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  4. Gotta agree with Juvat here. All those who strapped it on and went and did their jobs, knowing the possible outcomes, should be honored. Not just those who were fortunate (and skilled) enough to find themselves on a MiG's six o'clock.

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    1. Agree Flugelman, taking the oath, putting on the uniform, doing the job you're paid to do, regardless of circumstance, that's worth a lot to me.

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  5. Doing your job is simply expected.
    Being in the right place, at the right time and having the luck & the balls to do something that turned out to be special is worth noting. As an example to the others if for no other reason.

    Past that general comment I've no idea what this blog today is about...

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    1. Ah, Cunningham was a decorated Naval Aviator, five MiG kills in Vietnam, later did time in prison for taking bribes as a Congressman representing one of the Sandy Eggo districts. When I was younger he and Driscoll (his backseater) were heroes of mine. Initially I wanted to include at least Driscoll on the blog header, felt odd to have one and not the other. So both were left off, for better or worse.

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  6. It’s really difficult to separate the character from the man.
    That said, there’s a huge difference between a telescope and a microscope.

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    1. I would argue that the character IS the man.

      But yeah, who among us could withstand examination under a microscope? Problem is, Cunningham's sins didn't require a microscope. Are others guilty of the same and get away with it? Sure. But here's one thing, the commission an officer receives, has this in it:

      reposing special trust and confidence in the patriotism, valor, fidelity and abilities of...

      Cunningham tossed fidelity out the window.

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  7. With all this stuff about WSOs I thought that LUSH might be the author, but alas, radio silence remains unbroken.

    Cunningham did a great job at one time, but one aw shucks later that is forfeit. There are a lot of great people who could be recognized on the header, but there is not room for all of them, so no need to apologize or fret over Cunningham's absence there. As for Driscoll, it's your blog, your call. Maybe it would be good to have a WSO hero up there...after a few posts from one.
    John Blackshoe

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    1. I'll run that by her.

      Yes, there are probably thousands who belong on the header.

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    2. It wasn't one aw shucks moment, it was at least a few, possibly more, 2-year stints as a congresscritter while he lived on the Defense Industry's dime. He was taking money from two masters. See my post below.

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    3. Sometimes all it takes is one "aw shucks" to erase a whole bunch of "atta boys."

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  8. Oh, wow, honor. Such a small word to cover such a big topic. My years in the SCA trying to fulfill who I wish to be and who Mrs. Andrew wanted me to be (her vision of me was and is always much nicer than my self-image) taught me a lot about honor above what I already know.

    Honor isn't just doing the right thing at the right time once. Honor is a code of life, a way of living. It's like being a Christian. Either you have honor or not. Either you follow Christ or you don't.

    Honor is not just giving an enemy your hand after you knock him down. Honor is helping him up, and helping him become your friend.

    Honor isn't being a shwf Fighter Pilot, then becoming a Full of Shite blood-sucking bottom-feeding parasite. And then apologizing afterwards when caught.

    This person had and has no honor.

    Change circumstances. Say he's a shwf-fighter pilot, and then becomes a spy for Russia while still serving in the military. And then gets caught. Do we look at his early career where he's not a douce-canoe and say it balances out for being a traitor?

    Same with Christianity. One minute being a crusader, fall from grace serving satan, gets caught and is he remembered for serving God or the Devil?

    If he was a local cop, who racked up huge drug busts and caught some murderers as a beat-cop, but when as chief gets caught having his house funded by the mob, his children put through school by some Mexican gang, do we forgive his later actions?

    Cunningham was paid by two masters as a congress-critter. The American People, and his true masters the Defense Industry. Who did he Serve? Who did he Honor?

    I am sure Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were perfectly nice people too, at one time. But they weren't remembered for anything positive they did, well, except for dying. That was a positive outcome. No Honor at all.

    And there's a certain female actress who has starred in some really great movies after her dishonorable activities. Do you all forgive her? Does she have any honor left in her body?

    Honor is like water. It has to be pure or mostly pure to be considered clean. Think of a 1000 gallon water container. How little poop does it take to contaminate all that water? Cunningham had a dump-truck of poop dumped in his honor-tank.

    Nope. He's a traitor. As traitorous as the Rosenbergs, or Mr. Manning, or that female actress I mentioned before.

    Now, one can act honorably and still be a bastige. Notice the word 'act.' The appearance of honor, in a brief moment.

    Quite frankly, he should have taken the honorable way out. Turned on the whole system, exposed each and everyone who acted in a bad way, turned states evidence, worked to fix the system. Did he? No. He turned selfish. It was about him.

    A far more Japanese way of honor would have been better for him as soon as the news broke.

    So, no, don't put that traitor on the header. Those three children have more honor than he ever had.

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    1. ESPECIALLY the last sentence.

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    2. And all those who have sacrifices selflessly for others. Those are the real heroes. You have quite a few up there already.

      And I am sure that if damning information came out on even the best of them, damning in a major sin way, that person's cenotaph would rightly be removed if the sins warrant said removal. Not in a 'he's a Confederate General' way but in an 'OJ Simpson' way, if you catch my drift.

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    3. There must be MUCH more to his story than I was aware of. I heard about a boat, and maybe some travel. No need to elaborate. I'll go back to my mop handle and broom...

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    4. Yeah, more, that's the sad part.

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    5. I do want to point out, once I learned about that certain female movie-thingy, I no longer watched any of her movies. So, I was stupid and un-informed as a callow youth. When I learned, I learned the lesson well. Didn't even have to have someone yell at me about it. Made the decision that the traitorous female dog person was a traitorous female dog person. So. there's that.

      Sins, we all have them. That was a venial sin (watching without knowing, right up there with sin of omission.)

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    6. STxAR, as a sitting congress-critter, being paid as basically an employee of the American People, to represent the American People, after taking an oath to protect and defend America from enemies foreign and domestic, he then took the money of two defense contractors for at least 8 years.

      His masters should have been the American people, instead his masters were two defense contractors. One of the contractors got a choice contract for a product the defense department didn't want, didn't need, had no use for.

      There is MUCH more to this scandal. It is despicable. Not approaching Clinton-Level of corruption, but pretty bad.

      I know you said there was no need to elaborate, but corruption festers when not exposed. I knew somewhat about it, but was not totally versed. The more I dug into it the worse the story got.

      Needless to say, if one of us more normal people tried a 10th of what he did when he did it, we'd still be in prison. And not Club-Fed, but one of the more harsh facilities.

      My outrage-rant could go on for hours, but, well, I want to watch stupid-tv tonight.

      The nerve of some people (him and his ilk...) What part of an oath don't these people understand?

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    7. Yeah, the curiosity I'm known for kicked in. Did a bit of reading.... He was a skunk. No doubt about it. I remember clearly the end of Fox Two. I had hoped that he would be a changed man for good. Didn't happen.

      I imagine the betrayal of his oath, by those that took the same one (and undoubtedly meant it and still do) is heartburn of the highest order.

      Thanks for going easy on me. I didn't hear "TARGETS.... UP!!!!" But I heard the ziiiiip of the rounds going by!!!!

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    8. Well, STxAR, you are a friend here, I doubt anyone would want to be too tough on you.

      Duke, disappointed me, that's the crux of it. I expect more from guys like him.

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    9. What you heard was my wrath that he got nuked for what he did, yet a host who have done worse are still walking around, including one arrogant prick with his nose up in the air and another who is busy stealing shower curtains for clothes. Grrrrrrrrrrrr.

      Not firing anything at you. I just kinda exploded. Peeved at the world. I need a vacation from my head. Time to go to... The Hallmark Channel, or a nice Fred Astaire movie.

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  9. As to the WSO, if he is clear of cardinal sin (back to the Christianity-Honor comparison) and has some venial sins, and he is a hero of yours, and he 'meets the standards' of being put up on the standard, then do so.

    Ha. That's a great analogy.

    The unmentionable guy committed a Cardinal Sin - An unforgiven sin, one that one can repent, but still be marked forever. Only God himself can choose to truly forgive this soul.

    If he had only committed venial sins, like being a disagreeable old bastige, or a drunk (due to not coping too well with what he'd done), well, those are forgivable sins, sins we as men can easily forgive. He's a disagreeable old bastige but he's still a hero. He's a drunk, but he's still a hero. We can forgive, just as He can forgive.

    Cunningham, he committed a cardinal sin. He may have been heroic in his youth, but in his dotage he sinned most mightily, and only God can forgive him for what he did. Double down on the cardinal sin if any of his 'masters' actions caused preventable injury to our servicemembers.

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    1. I think this post is CDR Driscoll's honorable mention, and will be as far as it goes.

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    2. Good enough. CDR Driscoll was an honorable man, acting in an honorable way, in what was an honorable war run by dishonorable politicians against a host of dishonorable opponents (of which the dishonorable politicians were part of.) I salute him for his service, for his greatness, for his honor.

      Sounds like we all helped fill in the background for a proper decision. I am sure all here were glad to help. And the plane pictures helped also. :)

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    3. It's my experience that aircraft photos always help.

      :)

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  10. I think I said this once before on a post here, but Cunningham was a personal hero of mine also. Growing up, I wore out my dad's autographed copy of Fox Two from re-reading so many times.

    Leave him off. Driscoll probably deserves to be up there, but as Beans said (much better than I can), Cunningham didn't have feet of clay. Feet of clay are Boyington's drinking and fighting, or Buzz Aldrin's divorces. Cunningham doesn't belong on the header any more than that other former Naval aviator turned Arizona congresscritter would.

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    1. Ditto Aaron, my copy is shredded from rereading. I guess I should've done a lot more research before I kicked over the hornet's nest.

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    2. He did good, once upon a time. Can't live on past laurels forever, especially as badly as he screwed up. IMHO

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    3. We can celebrate the greatness of the man. Which makes the fall from greatness that much worse. Cautionary tale of power corrupting.

      As far as I know, most all of the Saints were at one time or another complete dumbasses. It was their clawing out of dumbassery that made them great. With complete understanding that they were of lesser or greater dumbassedness.

      But think about the most holy, who go from being on the side of good, to, well dumbasseryness on a holy level. One of those dumbasses was called "The Morningstar" and was the most favored of God's angels. We now, after his dumbass attempt of complete and utter dumbassedness, call him Lucifer and, well, he's a dumbass.

      Hey, I like Patton. I also acknowledge all of Patton's warts, like commanding tanks against the Bonus Marchers. At least Patton tried to be better than that. All heroes have faults, even OldAFSarge (hahahaha). It's the trying not to be faulty that makes for greatness. Conversely, embracing faulty makes one not-so-great. My dad used to say good heroes died young. And this may be why. Die when faulty, okay. Die after being faulty but going out a hero, great! Die after being a hero and going out really faulty, no good.

      The book is good. It's worth reading. Very much so.

      Man, I mouthy today. (How come I feel I just set myself up for one of juvat's missiles?)

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    4. "Break right!!!!!" (so you will be left)

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    5. Beans - I like it when you get, er, talkative?

      As to faults, mine are many. I try not to let them define me.

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    6. STxAR - I would have gone with "DUCK"!

      Just to confuse the issue...

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    7. STxAr, are you being gauche again?

      And I always pop chaff first. Or pop dandruff. Eh, both work in roughly the same way in diverting hot objects.

      OAF()S, Why duck? Are you telling me it might be my swan song? Or are you too chicken? What a loon. I may have many 'egrets, but being a turkey isn't one of them.

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    8. Ah Beans, tu es très drole.

      Did you just give me the bird? Er, multiple birds? Most fowl sir, most indeed.

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  11. Well since you did ask, (Making this your fault.), I'll toss in my two cents worth. First off, I speak as an infantryman which may entail a different perspective. In fact, I'm pretty sure it does since for the troopie, once you've knocked your enemy to the ground, the honorable thing to do is to slam your bayonet completely through his throatbox, thereby ensuring the rat bastard will never again fire even one single round at your fellow soldiers. Yes.

    Second, it's not clear to me if you're thinking of these guys as being in, at some remove, your own unit during the big punch up, or if you're seeing them as historical figures. Historical figures are always subject to revision, at least until they become mythical archtypes. Leonidas of Sparta is pretty much set in stone, but the subject of Omar Bradley can still cause fistfights in the VFW. Of course your own kampfkameraden are a different kettle of sharks.

    In my wild yoot I spent about ten years as a soldier, with about five of those in combat. In that time I served with some extraordinary soldiers. (Fr'instance, Randall "Randy" Shugart (MOH) was in my Ranger Platoon before he went to Delta.) They were not all nice guys, still less Christian Gentlemen. (Actually, Randy Shugart was both, but he's an outlier.) A quick mental review shows the numbers heavily weighted towards self-destructive pigheadedness. Excessive consumption of alcohol and chasing after painted women, when either or both were available, was pretty universal as well. None of which matters though, what matters is that they were; The Ones You Can Count On When The Steel Is Cutting The Meat.

    Several of those guys have blotted their copybooks fairly badly, usually with the help of intoxicants. Two of them were last seen as fugitives, one step ahead of the law. And at least one is doing twenty five to life in a no windows hotel.

    I. Don't. Care.

    They stood with me in the storm and night when the lawyers and such who now condemn them were sleeping snugly between clean sheets and then complaining about their coffee in the morning. They were, are, and forever will be, my friends, even, and perhaps especially, the ones I don't like.

    Wafa Wafa, Wasara Wasara.

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    1. Good comment. (Selous Scouts? Good motto there.)

      Duke put himself beyond the pale when he accepted bribes for defense contracts. We expect more (and usually get it) from our officers.

      Drink too much, chase women, perhaps lift a bit of swag now and again? It's okay in moderation, more slack is allowed us enlisted types, but our officers are, and should be, held to a higher standard. Not choir boys, but not brigands as well. Maybe it's a fine line, Duke crossed it. Didn't even blush.

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    2. I understand the rough men. They are rough for a reason. Play hard, fight hard, do hard time. I don't expect my Marine Recon friend to ever run for office, swear an oath to protect and defend and... Oh, no. Not him. Scare the carp out of local outlaw motorcycle gangs? Yep. Seen it. Be the meanest, baddest MoFo around, while holding doors open for little old ladies and chasing their daughters? Yep. That would be Agger. Nicest teddy bear with mange and rabies I ever met. Sweet guy. Loved my wife, just about gutted a guy who tried to hurt her, but, yeah, a rough stone indeed.

      We expect more from officers than troopers. And more from AF officers or Naval officers than from Army or Marine officers. Different jobs. Different expectations. And one expects more the higher the officer crawls up the chain. With great power comes great responsibility. He chose... poorly, and then acted poorly after getting caught.

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    3. Shack.

      Now that you kn ow what it means. ;)

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  12. I say put Cunningham and Songbird McCain in a darkened room with fungo bats and let them have at it. Then the winner gets to fall on his own sword as an honorable end towards self-redemption.........

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    1. John McCain didn't sing to the Commies. Don't know who started that, someone who wasn't there no doubt.

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  13. As for Duke, if he is there or not will not bother me. But if you put Driscoll up, then Duke ought to have at least a mention as to why he is there or not.
    Although, I think the header is getting a little crowded, might want to do what the Feral Irishman does and changes his header when the mood hits him.
    You could put one picture and maybe a link to the person and change it every week or so.
    Here is his site to check out, but it can be a bit NSFW at times.
    http://theferalirishman.blogspot.com

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    1. For now the header will stay as is. I am familiar with the Feral Irishman. (Is there any other kind?)

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)